Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Protection of Children's Health from Tobacco Smoke Bill 2012: Second Stage
Marc MacSharry (Fianna Fail)
I thank the Minister for coming to the House. I commend Senators Crown, Daly and van Turnhout for their initiative in bringing forward this legislation. Eight years ago, Fianna Fáil and our current leader, Deputy Martin, brought forward the smoking ban. As a smoker at the time, I opposed this internally in the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party. Now, having been off cigarettes for six and a half years and with the benefit of hindsight, I must say there is no way I would have succeeded to give them up if it were not for the smoking ban. To any smoker in a car with children in it wondering when he or she can have a cigarette I say he or she will look back on legislation such as this and offer great thanks. There is no question but that it will save lives.
I am sure other Senators have gone through the statistics. Senator John Crown's analogy of the firefighter and the child in a car is very stark. I was ridiculed for opposing the smoking ban when it was introduced and I am more than prepared to admit how wrong I was and how important was that legislation. With so many others, I have benefited from it by being able to give up smoking. We must constantly look to do more. The Minister and the Minister of State, Deputy Róisín Shortall, who is also welcome have mentioned how some hospitals do not allow smoking on entire campuses. This is a good initiative that could be mimicked by various employer groups. We could lead by example in these Houses. Although I am sure the smokers among us would not welcome it, they would not mind a short walk to the gate rather than smoking on the Leinster House campus and in Government Buildings. We could do worse than mirror the actions of the HSE in that context.
On behalf of the group of which I am a member, I congratulate Senators Mark Daly, John Crown and Jillian van Turnhout and commend the Government for accepting the Bill. I hope that, unlike other good legislative proposals, legislation such as this, even with the name of a Fianna Fáil Senator attached, will be accepted in the way this Bill has been, allowing various Members to make suggestions on Committee Stage.